Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Christmas Story...

This story takes place the evening the eastern snowstorm that came to the Shenadoah Valley, which if you're not able to recall the date was the 18th of this month. 

I was scheduled to work that evening at New York Flying Pizza in Bridgewater, and was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to attend the Heatwole Family Christmas Dinner.  I enjoy the people I meet through my work, so I wasn't completely disheartened.

On this particular evening not many customers were braving the snow covered roads to come and enjoy a pizza, so my employers were making plans to close early.  Even as plans were being made to close the doors early I knew it wouldn't be early enough for me to join the rest of my family for dinner.

As I thought these thoughts, the owers of the restuarant came to me to say that they didn't need as many waitresses as they had and as soon as the customers at the bar had finished their drinks I could go home.  It was 6:15 p.m. when this announcement was made. 

One of the eight gentlemen sitting at the bar overheard this conversation, and commented that it was nice I would be able to get home early and off the roads.  Having a 4-wheel drive vehicle this wasn't a concern to me, and I told him I would be trying to make the family Christmas dinner, even if I was late. 

He kindly asked what time the dinner was to be and I replied, at 6:30 p.m.  At this he looked to all the other men sitting at the bar and they all smiled and simultaneously picked up their beers, chugged the remains of their drinks and brought the empty mugs down with a satisfying thud onto the countertop. 

I stood there amazed at their generousity as they retrieved their wallets and began settling up accounts, with hefty tips being left me as a Christmas gift.  As each man was leaving we hugged and I wished them a Merry Christmas.  I left work at 6:25 p.m. as they were pulling out of the parking lot, and I made it to the family Christmas dinner only 15 minutes late. 

As I shared this story with one of my Aunts that evening at the Christmas dinner she replied, "it's a Christmas story."  Sure, it involves beer chugging (not the most attractive form of ingesting a beverage), but the heart and thoughtfulness of the gesture truly was a symbol of the season :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Must Blog About Something

Once upon a time I found blogging rather theraputic.  Throughout the day I would say to myself, "Now I should blog about that."  It could funny little bits of stuff, or just the ordinary run of the mill happenings.  Whatever it was, it was enjoyable to write about it.

Recently I've found myself in a stage of life where I want to spend less time on the internet, and it seems one of the first things to go was my blogging.  For some my lack of communication has been disappointting, I'm quite sorry.  For others still I think having one less blog to read is a relief (you have spoken up to me directly regarding your feelings, but I know you are out there).

I've begun to think I need to strike a middle ground, where I try to blog atleast once a month maybe more (though I don't imagine I'll get carried away).

I attribute my new ambition to the movie Julie/Julia which I saw this weekend.  It wasn't necessarily the blogging part of the movie I liked so much, it's the creativity of the blog I LOVED!!  How awesome to have taken such a task as working through Julia Child's cookbook and turned it into a year long blog. 

Though I simply don't have the time for such a task, I do appreciate the creativity, commitment and wonderful cooking that went into that project.  And what a delightful movie to come from it :) 

Maybe one of these days I'll stumble across an idea I feel as passionately about and turn it into a regular blog, or maybe I won't :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Timing of Things

There have been two events in the last week that have made me think about TIME, and how I view giving my time to God.  Thought I'd take a moment or two of my time and write the events out for you, and some of my thoughts.  You can decide if this is something that resonates with you, or maybe you'd even have something you would like to add.

My thoughts about time originated at a wedding I attended recently.  The wedding was for my second cousin Julie and her now husband David (who I am also related too - I won't get into that, but will say it's a mennonite thing).  Julie and David are part of the same Mennonite Conference (Southeastern Conference) that my grandparent Heatwoles were part of (the church of my Dad's youth).  It is typical of that more conservative mennonite conference to include a sermon as part of the wedding service.  The sermon for Julie and David's wedding was surprisingly VERY short.  I had been expecting something considerably longer (atleast 20-30 minutes in length), what we got was at most 8-10 minutes. 

I wasn't the only one surprised by the brevity of this particular sermon, and whispered comments were shared by those in seats surrounding me.  That is when I first noticed the clock that hung above the pulpit facing the congregation.  Without even realizing it I (and I believe maybe most of the congregation) had been timing the service with the use of this clock.  The thought hit me that I had been VERY aware of the time during the whole of the service and how that had been unconcentiously distracting. 

I had these same thoughts when a week later I was back in the same pew of the same church where my Grandmother's funeral was being held.  This time the sermon was considerably longer, and I have to honestly admit I was frustrated by that and the clock that hung over the pulpit.  Though I knew how important my Grandmother's faith was to her, I wasn't interested in hearing a sermon from Romans, so the time dragged on.  In the effort of full disclosure I was more interested in remembering stories of my grandmother, a woman of faith.  I wanted to remember with others how her life had been a reflection of God's Word. 

In the last week since the funeral I've asked myself a couple of times why I had been so frustrated by that clock staring me in the face.  A couple of days ago the answer struck me very plainly, I simply wasn't use to following time in church.  In every church I've ever attended the clock is also in the back of the sanctuary, and your back is to it (uncless you are behind the pulpit then you get to face it).  And since I don't like wearing watches, I simply don't follow the time during a service.  I don't keep a measure of how long we've been singing, praying or preaching, I simply give my heart over to the worship and I follow the spirit. 

I even questioned why we keep a clock in the church period, if most of the congregation doesn't even see it on a given Sunday.  I laughed to myself when it hit me that the clock was obviously positioned at the back of the church for a purpose, the person who needs it the most is able to view it there.  For all those long-winded preachers :)  Or maybe it would be better to place the clock at the front of the church where the pastor would not be able to see or be distracted by its presence?  Or just maybe we should do away with clocks in church all together? 

Should we be concerned with time when we gather together as the body in worship and praise?  Or maybe I'm just overthinking this line of thought?

Monday, October 26, 2009

An October Synopsis

I am hardly able to believe that the month of October is almost here and gone, and I haven't even bothered to blog.  To make up for lost time I intend to write a month in review blog for you now, so sit back and enjoy.

The month began on a frantic note as I worked hard to prepare my home for a temporary roommate.  I still hadn't unpacked all my belongings from moving, and had been using the second bedroom as a storage room.  Having someone move in with me was the catalyst I needed to finish my unpacking and organzing.  That doesn't mean I've finished all my home projects, but I am getting closer to being done.  Some of the bigger jobs I need to finish include outdoor gardening, painting the back porch, and finishing the shoemolding.  One of these days :)

My temporary roommate came and went within two weeks time, but it was nice having some time to get to know her a little better.  She is the girlfriend to an old friend/cousin of mine, so having a chance to get to know someone he considers important in his life was nice.

In other news this month I traveled with some of my good friends down to Floyd County, VA to the Floyd Country Store and their Friday Night Jamboree.  I've been there before, and like the first outing I had a wonderful time.  I enjoyed the great bluegrass music, the flatfoot dancing and just meeting the regulars.  Two of the regulars stood out to me the most.  First was Kay, she's a 70 something year old lady who is fiesty as can be.  I first met her six months ago when I went to the jamboree, and when I saw her again this time she remembered me. 

The first time I met Kay I walked away with a memorable quote (now you have to say this with a pretty heavy southern accent to get it right), "Honey, I've seen Elvis".  She was talking to us about her age at that time, and without giving us a direct age, this was her way of saying she was older than we thought she was.  This past visit she made us all laugh when she stopped to share with my pregnant friend that she had no excuse not to be out there dancing.  As Kay stated, "I learned to do the twist when I was pregnant."  Again, coming from this adorable southern woman I couldn't help but wear a large smile at her comments. 

The second regular I met was an older man named Rosco.  If you wanted a steorotype I could give you one in sweet ol' Rosco.  He was white haired with a long white beard, wearing old coveralls and a weaved hat with feathers.  When he smiled, which he did often, half his teeth were missing.  He was loveable, friendly sort and a hoot to dance with.  He helped me to have a very fun time while at the country store.

Recently, I've had some more trying times, but even through those events I know God has been close providing His comfort.  Last Thursday was particularly hard for me.  The day started out alright, but certain announcements brought disappointment.  First, in the middle of the afternoon I received an email saying that a job I had particularly wanted had hired someone else with more experience.  Less that two hours later a friend of mine told me some equally hurtful news.  Then as I was leaving her home my Dad called me to say my Grandmother had just passed away, though it had been expected it was still another hit. 

As I said earlier God was with me through this all, so the next day when I was dealing with all the shocks of yesterday I had to laugh when the final straw came.  Since God knows my sense of humor I wouldn't be surprised that he had specially arranged that a manure spreader happended to be spreading alongside the road as I came around the corner.  It was all perfectly timed so that my car got spread with you guessed it...shit.  I usually don't have a crude sense of humor, but the first thing that popped into my mind was, "I've officially been shit upon."  I couldn't stop laughing, and was on the phone with my friend at the time, and she shared in my humor. 

The funeral for my Grandma was a good time spent with my family, and remembering Grandma's many special gifts.  All in all it was a good time of rememberance of a very wonderful woman.  

This was the month in a nutshell and I still have one more week to go.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Course in Tractor Identification

In the fairly close knit community where I live it's not uncommon (though not necessarily frequent) to recognize vehicles belonging to acquaintances either on the road in a parking lot. So, more than likely while I'm out and about I'm not just aware of my driving, but also on recognizing people I may know.

The other day I pulled into the parking lot of a local restaurant in town. I parked next to a red cab-less tractor and immediately knew it belonged to one of my two Old Order Mennonite neighbors. When I walked inside I wasn't surprised to see Gerald sitting a table eating his lunch. I joined him briefly to visit, but then went on my way.

This week as I've been thinking about what happened (recognizing a tractor and knowing who it belonged too) and the whole incident has struck me as funny. It seems to me that there are probably very few places where you need to be able to identify tractors as a means of knowing who might be dining in a restaurant. I've lived in several cities where the idea would be laughable, yet here in my hometown the thought is somewhat normal. Just goes to say, what some find as normal others will most likely not :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Humming As I Work...

This morning I was humming a little tune as I worked on constructing my outdoor patio. The words to the song went a little something like this...

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
and the rains came a tumbling down!

The rains came down and the flood came up.
The rains came down and the flood came up.
The rains came down and the flood came up.
and the house on the sand went whoosh!

The wise man built his house upon the rock.
The wise man built his house upon the rock.
This wise man built his house upon the rock.
and the rains came a tumbling down!

The rains came down and the flood came up.
The rains came down and the flood came up.
The rains came down and the flood came up.
and the house on the rock stood firm!

Maybe your recognize this little ditty from your childhood days. Well, this morning as I was humming it my mind transposed a few words. My tune went a little like this...

The foolish girl built her patio upon the sand.
The foolish girl built her patio upon the sand.
The foolish girl built her patio upon the sand.
and the rains came a tumbling down.

The rains came down and the patio was destroyed.
The rains came down and the patio was destroyed.
The rains came down and the patio was destroyed.
and all the girl's work was for naught!

Here's hoping my patio stands firm against the rain! Next time I'll think my project through a little bit more before I get underway.

Friday, September 18, 2009

You're Going Down...

If you happened to live with me, which you don't because I live alone, the last two nights you would have gotten quite a show from me. I had had it up to here (I'm pointing way above my head) with the infernal creatures known as crickets. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to keep them outdoors here of late they've found little ways to make it inside.

I love them beautiful sound of crickets chirping when it's outdoors (adds to the "country" atmosphere), but the shrilly sound amplified indoors is too much, especially at night when I'm tired and sleep is most at mind.

So, the last two nights I went on a cricket hunting expedition in my home, each night around 1-2 a.m. In the last two nights I've managed to dispatch atleast ten crickets, and I believe that as of this morning only two more remain in my house. They are both in serious hiding, but I have their number and it's only a matter of time.

I'm hoping with the oncoming cooler weather that the crickets will start to disappear naturally, until then here's what you'll be hearing at my home in the wee hours of the morning, "You're Going Down Crickey Crickey Crickey...just keep on chirping I'll find ya!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Natural Beauty

This summer I've spent some time behind my camera, and here are a few of the photos I've managed to come away with.
This was taken as the sunset through the veritable jungle that my yard had become. You'd be happy to know that I've found some time to mow since I took this picture.
Beautiful sunset horizon over the corn fields. Since I'm surrounded by cornfields, they're usually in my photo composition.
More cornfields, sunsets and a hint of the moon.

This last photo is my favorite of the summer. Though the flowers are giving way to Fall weather the colors are incredibly vibrant and beautiful.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Playing in the Rain

If you happened to be driving by Airport Road today around 2 p.m. then you might have witnessed a peculiar sight. Some crazy woman was standing outside her house with her arms and face lifted to the sky, and laughing while the rain came down in sheets. For those of you who aren't aware I live on Airport Road, and on occassion I've been called "crazy".

The spontaneous action to run outside into the storm gripped me when I first heard the rain on the metal roof. It reminded me of so many other storms during my childhood, and I LOVE a good rain storm. I also flashed back to several early memories I have of standing out in those storms fully clothed and feeling the clean rain soak me through.

As I stood inside my home watching the rain through the windows and being reminded of all those times I use to play outside during the rainstorm the only thought in mind was, "why not now?" Just because I'm an "adult" now doesn't mean I have to give up the pleasure of playing the rain. Sure, I certainly have plenty of obligations that don't leave me much time to soak myself in a good rain storm, but for those times I don't, why not!

So, just like that I walked out my front door and into the pouring rain. The rain was cool, the air smelled cleaned, and the grass was squishy between my toes, it was absolutely WONDERFUL! I promised myself this afternoon to not let it go so long again until my next walk in the rain.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cravings...

I was having a craving today for Rice Krispies Treats. I simply can't remember the last rice krispy treat I've had, and I don't mean the store bought ones, I'm talking homemade. So, while thinking of rice krispy treats I stumbled upon a record of the world's largest rice krispy treat.

Check this out:

World's Largest Rice Krispies Treat

size - 12 ft. long, 6 ft. wide, 2 ft. deep, 2,480 lbs.

ingredients - 818 lbs. Rice Krispies, 1,466 lbs. marshmallows, 217 lbs. butter

where and when made - Iowa State University, April 2001

All I have to say, "That's A LOT of Butter!!"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Country Scenery - Sunsets


As I sit out on my porch looking over the growing corn and watching the sunset over the distant mountains, this is what I see. Isn't our Lord AMAZING!!

In Honor Of...

....my friend Jake. Today is Jake Tillett's Birthday! On the count of three let's all say, "Happy Birthday Jake."

One...Two...Three.... "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKE!!"

After all that, I hope Jake is in the habit of reading my blog :)

I certainly read his, and I highly recommend you check out his latest post. Jake is quite gifted with words and I'm certain you'll find him amusing and enjoyable to read, even if you don't know him. If you ever get the chance, I also recommend getting to know him :)

I met Jake one Sunday morning shortly after he moved to Salt Lake City. He came visiting Discovery Christian Community Church, where I had been attending for the last year. After church services, as was many in the church's habit, we went out for lunch. Jake wasn't familiar with the area yet, and I offered him a ride to the restaurant. That was the start to our friendship, though it really got going when Jake kindly helped me paint the church coffee house (I always like people who help me paint).

For the next year and a half before I left Utah for Virginia I spent time with Jake (and several other of my "Utah Guys"...Tommy, Fou, and Jake). Lot of wonderful memories there! Then about a year and a half after I left Utah, Jake also left Utah for Mali, Africa.

That's where you can find him now, working in a clinic as a nurse. So, today I wish him a Happy Birthday and continued blessing as he serves the Lord so far from home. Philippians 1:6

Friday, August 7, 2009

Country Life

I'm back living in Bridgewater, in a cozy house on Airport Road. I love it there, the scenery (at this time cornfields almost surround me), my neighbors, and of course the peace and quiet. After living the last thirteen months in busy downtown Harrisonburg, the peace and quiet is most certainly welcome.

It's a welcome change, yet it hasn't necessarily been an easy change. I went from being responsible for a home that included myself and up to six others, to just having to take care of myself. I find that it isn't the responsibility that I miss (I'm enjoying the freedom from added responsibility) it's being alone that's harder to handle. Don't get me wrong I definitely need time to myself, just not too much time. I miss having people around me, the noises and fellowship they bring. As it is now, when I'm home by myself (which is most of the time) I can't get over how quiet it is and how lonely.

Another change is the lack of ready entertainment. In Harrisonburg if I wanted to entertain myself I could easily walk or bike to a number of different attractions; parks, libraries, restaurants, etc. Also, Sandal House was equipped with internet and cable television. Now I would never have thought that I came to depend on the internet or the television, but I'm finding that doing without either is harder than I thought it would be. I really dislike having become so accostume to both the internet and cable, that I'm determined to live without them for awhile and then make a decision if I'd like them later.

I'm already finding that both the internet and cable had become distractions for me. I was using time with both of those items that I've begun to use in more healthy ways. First, I'm reading more (actually I always read alot, but now it's even more). I'm in the kitchen more. I'm practicing the piano more. I'm outdoors more. I just have more time. Those are the advantages. The disadvantages are having to schedule my internet time at either the library or my parents, which could mean not even being able to check my email on a given day (that's difficult when I'm hoping to hear back from different possible employers). I also enjoyed watching the Food Network while I worked in the kitchen :) I've replaced that habit with listening to Praise and Worship music while I work.

So far that is life in the country. I'm enjoying being back on Airport Road, but still have some adjustments to make.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's not really good-bye...

This morning I stood by the kitchen door and said good-bye to one of my teens as she left for school (summer school). We had just hugged and I was watching her walk away, knowing that by the time she got home this afternoon I would be gone from Sandal House. I began to cry as she walked on further and her son turned towards me and waved good-bye.

I know this isn't the last time I'm going to be seeing them, or some of the other teens I've known over the last year, so I didn't think leaving would be so emotional. Yet, today as I finish my packing, cleaning and other odds and ends I find myself breaking into tears.

Cleaning the kitchen I remembered the meals I fixed there with different girls. Picking up toys from the living room floor I remembered romping around with different children, and their delightful giggles. Upstairs I packed clothes that had belonged to a teen who left suddenly (not even taking all her belongings) and I remembered different challenges I faced with some pretty lost teens. This whole house is filled with memories, the good and the bad.

As I prepare to leave Sandal House I lift up praise to God for bringing me here in this last year. I can't say it's always been easy, but I do thank Him for how the teens and their children have helped to shape my life. I thank Him for the opportunity to be His instrument in helping these same teens and their children in a time of need.

I pray that Sandal House continues to be a home of peace and sanctuary for young girls facing one of life's most important challenges, parenthood.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

That's Awkward

Merriam-Webster dictionary in part defines the word Awkward as:

a: lacking social grace and assurance b: causing embarrassment : not easy to handle or deal with : requiring great skill, ingenuity, or care

I'm able to define the word awkward in the following story:

Last evening I took one of the Sandal House teens and her toddler son out to the farm where I grew up. The two men that live there now allow me to come out there whenever I like, and the children at Sandal House love the animals. I usually plan my visits for the evening milking, so that the teens and children are able to see the cows in one place and being milked. They also are able to visit with the two men that live there.

These two guys are in their mid-twenties and are Old-Order Mennonite (I've most likely referred to them in earlier posts). Being that they are about my age I enjoy relating with them, and they make great neighbors and friends. Over time our friendship has grown and we often share jokes and laughter. It's a good thing we're comfortable with each other now, it makes the events of last evening just a tad less awkward.

It all started in the milking parlor where Gerald was finishing milking the last cows for the evening. I had introduced him to the teen with me and her son, and we were leaving the parlor to go visit the baby calves next. As the outer door shut on the milking parlor with the teen, her son, and me on the outside, and Gerald on the inside, the teen speaks to me over the noise of the milking.

"Wow, he's CUTE! You all would make a great couple."

She said this loud enough to be heard over the noise of the milking, what she didn't observe was that even though the milking parlor has doors, it's also a building with large open spaces on the side walls that are kept opened in the summer time heat. As soon as the words were out of her mouth I knew that if I turned around I would find Gerald behind me smiling, having heard everyone of her comments.

For a long two seconds I stood there wondering what approach I should take. I could walk on, pretending that I didn't think he had heard her comments. I could turn around myself and acknowledge him and the comments. And lastly, I could turn around myself and the teen, and all of us could acknowledge what was said, and who heard it.

Feeling bold for the moment I took the teen by the arm and turned her around with me to wave at Gerald standing there with a silly smile on his face. My teen turned instantly embarrassed, and Gerald and I saved the move and the joke by smiling at one another, which she caught onto. If she hadn't noticed that we found it funny too by the smiles we were wearing, she was definitely reassured by Gerald's, "Thank You."

That's just another awkward moment that was diverted by "great skill, ingenuity, and care" (as Merriam-Webster would say).

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Long Weekend

It all began last Friday when I spent my day in preparations for a weekend spent at the beach. Out of all the errands that I ran that day two in particular stand out to me. First, I had to make sure I had a full tank of gas, without much thought I stopped at the nearest gas station. I purchased gas for $2.15 a gallon, my only thought, "gas prices just keep going down...awesome."

After the purchase of a full tank of gas I went further down the road and saw another store that had gas priced at $2.35 a gallon. That's unusual considering these two places usually compete pretty closely with one another on price. For the rest of the day I noticed other gas station's prices and nothing came close to $2.15. It wasn't until I was driving home that I passed the station where I had bought my gas earlier in the day and noticed the price had gone up to $2.35 a gallon. Found out later that they had made a mistake earlier in the day, and for about a 1/2 hour their customers got gas at a reduced price on $2.15. Lucky Me!

I wasn't so lucky when I went to get my haircut. For awhile now I've been getting my haircut by, Nancy, who is a terrific hairdresser. It was at my 10 year highschool reunion recently when I learned one of my old classmates is working as a hairdresser in Bridgewater, and I thought I'd go to her in support of her work (I'm really not that picky - it's just hair it grows back). When I dropped by where she works, I learned that she had to suddenly leave early for the day and wouldn't be back to Monday, they asked if I'd like to rechedule. I was really set on getting my hair cut before I left for the beach, so I took an opening to get my hair cut by another woman at the salon. The hair cut was going well and I was quite pleased until she tackled my bangs lastly. I told her exactly how I liked them cut, and exactly how I DID NOT want them cut. Let's just say in the end I'm now sporting the perfect example of how I DON'T like having my bangs cut.

When I got back out to my car and looked at my bangs the phrase that kept coming to mind was "Bowl Cut". I look like one of those little amish boys and their bowl cut bangs. I knew it was bad when one of my teens at Sandal House also used the phrase bowl cut.

As for damage control on my hairstyle that won't be possible for another week maybe two. I need to give my bangs some time to grow, and then I'm off to see Nancy for the fix. I think I've learned my lesson here, from now on only Nancy gets to cut my hair. Sorry to my old classmate, but I'm just not ready to make the jump to a new hairdresser at this time.

And all that was just Friday, I still had a very busy Saturday and Sunday to survive. We awoke early on Saturday morning to start the drive down to Virginia Beach. By early I mean to say, I took a page out of my Dad's book and left at 4 a.m. The traffic was non-existent and we arrived at the beach by 8 a.m.

We spent an exhausting morning by the ocean. In the past I could enjoy the beach because it meant playing or laying out in God's beautiful creation. On this particular morning I spent time chasing around a 16 month old little boy, who only wanted to chase seagulls, run into the ocean, and eat sand. After 3 and 1/2 hours of keeping up with those activities we were ready to call it quits and head to the Virginia Beach Strip for some lunch. Of course that meant we must first lug all our beach equipment back to the car. You know how much stuff you need at the beach when you have kids? Too MUCH!!

After a couple of hours of eating lunch and shopping it was time to get back in the car and retrace our steps to Williamsburg, where I had booked us a hotel for the night. Once in Williamsburg we headed to the pool for some more swimming and then went to the room for naps. Unfortunately for the adults present the little 16 month old had slept in the car and wasn't desiring a nap at the time. I had just commented on how he seemed to be in everything in our room, when he tripped over his own two little feet and fell. He smacked his head on the table between the two double beds and began to cry. His Mom picked him up as if nothing had happened and I ran to get a towel because I had seen the blood. Sure enough this little boy had a bloody, gapping wound on his forehead, which lucky for us didn't bleed too much. As soon as I saw the cut I knew it would need stitches.

Since God knows our needs before we even do ourselves, He had prepared a way for us to get to the hospital in the form of my Aunt who lives in Williamsburg. I called her for directions to the hospital and she responded with I'll be right over. Aunt Jan was wonderful, giving time out of her evening to spend with us at the hospital (which was a maze to find from our hotel and would have made me crazy trying to find on my own).

The toddler's mom wasn't to keen on the idea of bloody wound being stitched up, fearing she would faint I stepped in as the assistant to restrain the child. The Mom stepped into the hallway and I held down a papposed screaming hysterical child as he received four stitches. Lucky for me the doctor had to position me so that I looked directly into the wound, yeah for my strong stomach.

I know that the stitches didn't hurt this little boy, because as soon as it was over and he was unrestrained and in his mother's arms he was smiling and laughing in a matter of moments. It's amazing to me the difference a mother's arms can make for a child.

From that point it was back to the hotel, ordering some dinner and eating in bed. As soon as my meal was finished I was asleep, for it had been a long day.

The plan for Sunday morning was to sleep in and have brunch with my Aunt before checking out Colonial Williamsburg. Sleeping in with a toddler in the room meant we were awake by 8 a.m. Brunch was a hurried affair as we tried to keep a toddler pacified, and Colonial Williamsburg ended up being a shortened version because of the excessive heat. It was almost a relief to call the vacation to an end and head back home. Ahhhh HOME and my own bed!! That's where I spent Sunday night and what a pleasant night sleep it was :) That was the end of my long weekend.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Seriously Committed...or in need of committing









As I write this blog it's approaching the midnight hour, and I'm standing in the musty smelling basement of Sandal House. There's two perfectly good reasons for each of those behaviors. First, I just can't seem to fall asleep this evening, even though I know I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow and I need plenty of rest. Secondly, the Sandal House computer is on the fritz and isn't picking up the wireless connection, so I'm bound to my old laptop and the internet cable connected to the router in the basement.
Normally I would have forgone my need for internet access and awaited a chance to fix the problem on the computer upstairs; but for some reason, not being able to sleep only fueled my addiction to the internet and my desire to check my email and blog. As I mentioned in my post heading I'm either seriously committed to this blog, or in need of committing for my addiction :) I'll let you all decide.

Changing the subject, since I find myself on my old computer I thought I'd take the time to post some photos I have stored here. These will be oldies but goodies, and fair warning these are photos I picked at random.
I'll start us off with a cake I made about a year ago. It combines two of my favorite desserts, chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies (note the emphasis on chocolate).

This photo is of my dear sweet cousin Maddie, it was taken about three years ago. She was all tuckered out from her visit to the farm and was taking a nap in my bed. I couldn't help myself and took a picture of her and she lied there peaceful and calm.


This next picture brings back fond memories. I was given this rose several years ago on Valentines Day by my friend Danielle. It was her birthday and she gifted me with this sweet gesture. On a day that is often devoted to couples it was nice to remembered as a single.

These crazy guys are friends of mine from Utah. If you're wondering what they're up to I'll just say, "Hear no, Do no, See no, Speak no Evil." I wonder who put them up to that for the camera?

My friend and old roommate, Olivia and I, hanging out with the church group. I was thinking of Olivia this evening because she's planning a trip to Virginia to come visit me this Fall.

Another photo from my time in Utah. This was taken at the Utah State Fair about two years ago. The guy on the far left is now in Mali, Africa and the guy on the far right was baptized today. I'm so happy for both of them, and this picture just reminds me of what great friends they are to me.
This last picture is very special to me. It's the last photo I ever took of my cousin Tiffany before she was killed in a car accident over two years ago. The photo was taken several months before as our family gathered to celebrate Christmas and I was in town from Utah. That was the last evening we had together and I really cherish that memory. She was such a beautiful young woman in her outward and inner self.

Now that I've traveled down memory lane it's probably time to try and find some rest. Remember I've got a busy day ahead of me tomorrow.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Camping Photos...

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week; last weekend I spent time out in Highland County camping with two of my good friends. After spending a wet night out in the woods Saturday we awoke Sunday morning and prepared for church. We found that breaking down camping and dressing up for church didn't take us that long. With some extra time on our hands we stopped by the farmstead that belonged to my Great Uncle Lohr Vance (and now belongs to my Uncle Robin and Aunt Nancy) and took some photos.

My friends Kyle and Brendan clean up nice :)



This log structure sits at the end of the lane facing the main road. It use to be the Vance Country Store many years ago. I have memories there as a small child sitting by the fireplace eating candy from the store.

After church we headed home by way of a detour. Here's some of the scenery we stopped to look at on the way.








Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's All About The Blog

Yesterday afternoon I was innocently taking out my trash (standing on my front porch) when a frightening occurrence happened, I felt something touch my ankle!!

I looked down thinking it was just the trash bag I was tying only to encounter a opossum standing between my feet. In the moment of recognition I nearly jumped three feet high and let out a piercing scream. After scrambling away from the opossum as fast as I could my brain began function again in this order:

1. That opossum is a baby! Where's it's Momma? Is the Momma standing behind me yet, or anywhere else that's too close to me?

2. Frantically searched the rest of the porch for Momma Opossum on the chance that they're protective of their young and she was about to attack me.

3. I just screamed quite loudly with all of my neighbors on route 42 to hear, good thing nobody seemed to be around to witness that embarrassing moment.

4. I just screamed quite loudly with all of my neighbors on route 42 to hear and nobody seemed to have heard me, that's not comforting if something really bad ever happens.

5. I left the front door open a crack I hope no other opossums have gone into the house.
6. This whole incident is like that video on YouTube my friend posted today.

7. I need to get my camera and get a picture of this opossum for my blog!!

All these thoughts crowded my in mind in a matter of moments. So, after securing the scene (making sure only one opossum was present) I went back in the house for my camera and proceeded to get these photos.






What sticks out to me the most about this whole experience is that no matter how hard my heart might be jumping in fright my mind is never far from thinking about my blog. Still haven't decided if this is a good thing :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Dad

Last year, shortly after selling the farm, my Dad joined the Bridgewater Rescue Squad as a driver. This was something he had been wanting to do for quite a while. These days most of Dad's stories come from the other volunteers he works with, or other random tidbits from his time at the squad.

Shortly before my Dad's birthday I concocted an excuse to come visit him at the squad while he was on duty. I wanted pictures of him to make an edible cake for his birthday. Here are a few of the shots I got.





This last photo is the position you'll most likely see my Dad in during the Bridgewater Lawn Party Parade this Friday evening. I'm excited to see my Dad driving an ambulance during the parade. Ya'll better come on out and see him too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Highland County

This past weekend I was in Highland County spending time with my Mom's family. Normally I would have slept over at my Granddad's house, but he was feeling poorly, so I camped outdoors. Two of my good friends came with me, and we tested our tents against the rain that came this weekend. It was a fun weekend!

Over the course of the weekend my friend Brendan took over my camera from time to time. The end result was these two videos, plus some great photos. Thought I'd share the videos, and the inspiration behind them.

The first video is of the crick crossing we had to take to reach our camp site. I was told after the video was taken that it would have been much more dramatic to see some water spraying. In guy language that means you were going to slow, better speed it up.

video

You might wonder what's up with the second video, he's just recording a drive down a road. I was told when I saw this video that the significance isn't what's being shown, but my accent as I'm talking. I guess I was sounding a little "country".

video

Monday, July 13, 2009

Graduation Cake

Recently I made an image cake for a young ladies' graduation. I was excited at how adorable the edible image turned out. It always helps to have such a beautiful baby in the picture!




Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stories...

My favorite stories are those in which it is evident that God is working out "the solution" to a problem before we even know our "need". Recently one of those events played out in my own life.

A couple weeks ago I began hearing in earnest about the upcoming Mennonite Convention that was to be held in Ohio. I heard particularly about our youth and their involvement with the convention trip. Hearing their excitement reminded me of the youth convention I attended at their age, but also it reminded me of Highland Retreat.

Highland Retreat is a christian youth camp I attended grewing up, and then in my late teens I worked there as a counselor. I remembered how it was at camp the years they had conventions, and many of the teen counselors would ask off for convention week. This always left the camp short of staff, and often they would need replacement staff for just the one week.

In the last several weeks, during my quiet time with God, I kept coming back to the idea of asking the camp director if they needed more help for the week. It seemed like a ridiculous idea. For starters, I'm at Sandal House, how was I going to get away for a week and leave my teen girls. I had also heard that camp attendance was down this year, it was very likely they didn't even need me there.

I kept telling myself how impossible the idea really was, and that I shouldn't worry about it.

The last weekend in June was the Highland Retreat Annual Steak BBQ Dinner that is a fundraiser for the camp. My dear friend Stephanie asked me earlier in the week if I was going to attend and could we go together. Once we arrived at the camp we went to find Ben and his wife Rebecca who both work there as summer staff and are old friends of ours. They immediately told us how attendance had increased for the next week very suddenly and that several girls had been put on a wait list because there wasn't enough female staff to have them come to camp.

I knew then I shouldn't hesitate. I immediately told Rebecca that I felt God was leading me to come that week and fill in, and I would find someone to cover for me at Sandal House, but I could come if they needed me. No sooner did those words come out of my mouth, then Stephanie said she would be happy to fill in for me at Sandal House for the time I would be away. The pieces fell into place so easily, within moments.

I spoke with the director of the camp that afternoon and we arranged for my time with them. The director was able to call the families with the wait listed campers and tell them they could come to camp the next week.

It was a wonderful week at camp!! I was placed in a cabin with six little 8-10 year old girls, and a co-counselor who was also an old friend of mine (she had come back to volunteer too).

During our time with these little girls they would often ask us to share stories with them. We would tell them of our old camp experiences (even some of the old pranks we pulled). The best stories were those of how God had worked in our lives, especially the times we experienced with Him at camp.

On Thursday morning we took our cabin on a hike. The hike turned out to be probably one of the best I was ever on as a counselor. Funny story, my co-counselor and I had been together once before as co-counselors, and at that time we had attempted a hike with a cabin, but were never able to find the trail head. We laughed at ourselves on this hike, because as simple as the hike was, we weren't able to find the trail head. We quickly came up with a plan B and hiked a different route.

This new route lead us directly up a ridge to the Wilderness Shelters found on the camp property. When I had been much younger I attended wilderness camp for many years and these shelters were like a second home to me. I took our campers on a tour of the wilderness camp grounds and showed them to my old shelter and my old bunk.

At the shelter a very special moment happened. We took the time to sit down together and share some Bible Stories, and from those stories I transitioned into sharing with the girls my own faith story that had happened right there in that very shelter. It was in that very shelter one evening when I was 12 years old that I asked my counselor to pray with me as I asked for forgiveness for my sins and invited Christ into my heart.

As I shared my story I looked around at those precious faces and prayed silently that one day they too would each have a similiar story to share. That they would know the joy of sharing with others the work that Christ has done in their lives. Who knows, maybe one day they'll be out in the middle of the woods with a group of little girls sitting around them listening as they share about the Love of Christ.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I had a Great Aunt Jo (one of my Mom's aunts), who shared with us two very important prayers. The context of these prayers is the failing health Aunt Jo experienced in her 90's. At this time she was in almost constant pain and considered legally blind, yet we never heard a complaint from her. Instead, she sought to be a blessing to those around her.

She told us one day that she prayed two prayers each and every day during this season of her life. Each night before going to sleep she would ask the Lord to take her home to His Glory. Each morning when she found herself waking to another day, her first prayer was that the Lord would make her a blessing to someone else that day.

She explained to us, that God had a purpose for EACH day of her life, and she wanted to be a part of that purpose for ALL the days He had for her here. In her way of thinking it didn't matter that she couldn't see, or that pain was a constant in those last days (years), God still had a purpose for her.

I was thinking of Aunt Jo's prayers this morning when I woke, and asked the Lord to make a blessing to others today. It wasn't long after my prayer time when I went online and discovered and old college friend of mine went to be with the Lord on Thursday.

After the first shock, hearing of her death, I began to think back about the person she was. I knew her for only a short time while I attended school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, yet she was a blessing to me during that time. She was one of those people who helped me to feel at home in a place very distant from the only home I had ever known until then.

Kelli was her name; and she became my walking partner, my cheesecake eating buddy, my partner in crime (we might have pulled a prank together), and let's not forget all those clean dishes we put away at our campus job. Those were just some of the activities we shared, her friendship also meant a lot of laughter, encouragement, and a sympathetic ear. It's been almost ten years now since I've seen her, but the memories of those days will go with me for a lifetime.

It's through Kelli's life and the life of my Aunt Jo that I begin to understand what it means to live for Christ each and every day, ALL the days of our lives. Yes, sometimes that ALL seems to be cut terribly short, and we grapple to understand why that is. Yet, I sit here tonight and thank the Lord for Kelli's life and the love she shared with me and so many other people. We know now that she's resting in the arms of her Savior and Lord!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Have Made the Transition...

...I've officially become like my Mom.

It all started the day I was born, looking very much like my Mom (except I was jaudice - yellow looking - but that all disappeared in a couple of days).

From that point on I lived under the same roof as my Mom for eighteen plus years, and she just gradually rubbed off on me :)

These days I find myself in moments where I'm forced to admit that I'm acting just like my Mom. The most recent of these events was when I went about choosing paint colors for my home in Bridgewater. Normally I've been attracted to COLOR, not necessarily dark bold colors, but not WHITE. My Mom on the other hand has always liked whites that have a tint of another color to them.

We use to tease her about not going with color on her walls. Now that her and Dad are completing their new home, they've added color to each of the rooms. Because the axis of the earth suddenly shifted with that decision on my Mom's part, I had to be the one to bring balance again and went with different shades of white in my house :)

So, for those of you asking for pictures of my painting project don't get too excited, different shades of white don't pick up too well for the camera. You'll just have to think off colors of white with bright white semi-gloss trim and you'll have the right picture in your mind. For such a small home (with low ceilings too) going with warm tones of white was the right choice. The house feels much more open than if I had a darker color palate in mind.

For those of you who want to see the different shades of white you're welcome to come and visit me any time. If you come in the afternoons this week, just wear you're paint clothes, I've got a rollor or brush you can use.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fresh Paint

Since returning from Utah I've been renting a small home my parent's own (separate from where they live). They've pretty much given me free rein to make any modifications I want to the place...it's a really old home and they are beyond caring about the place.

I haven't really done much with the place in the last year because I've been working and living at Sandal House. Since my time with the teen mothers is coming to an end I've been preparing my move back to the home in Bridgewater.

I like to think this home has some character to it, and just needs a little TLC. Over the last couple of weeks I've been administering that tender loving care in the form of a fresh coat of paint for all the rooms. I'd say I'm about half way through the project and it's looking more daunting each day (that's painting for you).

The transformation though is absolutely amazing. Every once in awhile I stand back and look at the wall, trim or door I've just painted and I think how beautiful it's all becoming. I truly can't wait for the painting to be complete so I can begin the decorating with curtains and wall hangings/pictures.

Also, once the painting is complete the new flooring will go in...YEAH!! New carpeting and vinyl floor for all the rooms. I'm just so excited by all the changes to my home...my haven and sanctuary.

Just think once I put in all this work on the interior I can move my efforts to exterior with painting and gardening...oh goodie!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Favorite Time of Year

It's my favorite time of year, that time each year when all the farmers get out their tractors and hit the open road.

Most motorist would disagree with me, and say that tractors are slower on the roads and a hinderance to normal traffic flow. Personally, I love slowing down somewhat and enjoying the view. It's an added bonus that often I recognize different farmers on their tractors and enjoy waving a greeting to them.

Having lived in both city and rural environments, I realize the idea of tractors mingling with other motorists is a "country" novelty. It's definitely one of the benefits of living in the country. I mean who doesn't enjoy a tractor!!

I remember how my high school even had a bring your tractor to school day. How "country" is that? During my brother's senior year he won for biggest tractor...it was a nice tractor...my Dad even named her (sorry I can't remember her name at the moment...but it was definitely a "her").

When I think of tractors I also think of my good friend Kyle. There have been several times he's made me laugh over the phone with his tractor talk. One afternoon when I was living in Utah I called Kyle back in Virginia and tried talking to him. Before he even said hello it was, "hold on let me turn off my tractor." Okay, I know that's not particularly funny, but for a country girl who had been living too long in a big city, it was unexpected and therefore very amusing. Plus, you have to know Kyle, the whole comment was said with this great accent.

Though I never would have said I was one of those girls who cared what kind of vehicle a guy drove, I've been thinking lately that it helps if he's driving a TRACTOR. Let me clarify for the public at large I'm NOT interested in the John Deere variety...it's much better if the tractor is red or blue (New Holland, Case, Ford, etc.) Let's not have any of that green and yellow stuff :)
Though this picture was taken about six months ago, it's the best picture I have of a cutie on a tractor. It's of one of the little ones that lived at Sandal House. We went on a field trip to visit a local farm. Just goes to show everyone looks good on a tractor!!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mishaps and Memories...

Today was a very FULL day. Since I haven't felt up to much over the last week, I have this long list of "to do" items that have been compiling. Today was an attempt at checking many of those items off the list. It seemed the more I tried to accomplish, the more I stumbled along the way.

After work I needed to pick up some dessert for the girls to take with them to the Youth Group dinner at church. I decided that Costco has great cookies in their bakery and it's on my way home from work, so I stopped in there. Of course the place was busy around the 5:00 p.m. hour and I ended up standing in a very long line. I got through the line only to drop the cookies all over the floor near the entrance. They were very gracious and allowed me to exchange the ruined cookies for some new ones at no cost to me. So now I had my cookies, but it took me twice as long as I thought it would.

I took the girls to Youth Group and headed out to run errands. I needed to pick up supplies and groceries for a bake sale we're having to support a hospital in Mali. The bake sale is this Saturday and I needed to do most of my grocery shopping tonight. On my long list of items to buy was 18 large eggs. I was in the check line of the grocery store when the eggs took a tumble from my cart to the floor, making sure to break every last 18 of them. What a Mess!!

At this point I've watched the "cookie crumble" and "walked carefully on eggshells" what else could possibly go wrong? How about an exploding can of pepsi. When I got back to the house with all my groceries I placed a 12 pack of pepsi a little too hard on the floor and one can exploded in the package. So, I went about cleaning up pepsi from my floor.

Just to rub salt in my wound I realized after I got home that I incorrectly informed the grocery checkout lady about the number of soda packages I had purchased. My mind was so focused on the fact that I had packages of 12 that I told her I have 12 packages in my cart (I wasn't about to lift them all on the conveyor belt), when I only had 9 packages with 12 in a package. I ended up paying for 3 packages I never even had, but I do remember telling her 12, so I'm calling it my "idiot tax". It just grips the Cheap Mennonite in me that I paid $9 more than I had too.

** I should have never asked myself what else could go wrong. I wrote this post last evening, and this morning I awoke to find out that the auxillary fridge in our basement (the one storing all my bake sale perishables) had gone out during the night. Just another little set back in a day full of mishaps. **

Despite all the set backs to my day I did enjoy the baking that ended my evening. With the bake sale this Saturday (Lord, please don't let it rain that morning/early afternoon) I had a lot of baking to do. I started with the chocolate chip cookies this evening, and as I rolled the cookie dough I started thinking about Jake Tillett. It's not surprising that Jake was forefront in my thoughts, the bake sale is to support his service to the Koutiala Hospital in Mali, Africa. Jake will be serving there for the next year and other rural clinics.

So, the bake sale was reminding me of Jake, also the simple act of rolling out cookie dough brought him to mind. One of my favorite memories of Jake was the evening he came over to help me roll out hundreds and hundreds of cookies for an Art Benefit we were having to raise funds for the African Refugees in Salt Lake City. As my contribution to the benefit (hey I'm no artist) I was providing the catering to the event. Jake volunteered to help as my baker's assistant for the evening before the event.

It was a long long evening of baking cookies and prepping other items. Jake, the poor dear, spent most of the evening rolling and rolling cookie dough. If you haven't noticed I've mentioned several times that he rolled cookie dough. I'm not able to stress enough how long he was at that task or how tedious it was for him. I don't think Jake will ever be volunteering to help me bake again :)

The cookies that night were a huge hit. Jake and I had made them bite sized, so that they carried more with the upscale atmosphere of the night. In the end we had fed hundreds, but there was still more cookies leftover (almost as if God had multiplied them like the loaves and fish). When the event came to a close, I asked the organizer if I could take the leftovers to a local shelter, she loved that idea.

For me the highlight of that evening wasn't the success of the Art Benefit (though that went specularly well), it was the look on the man's face when I drove up the shelter later that evening and asked if he would like some homemade cookies. Every cookie that Jake had meticulously rolled brought happiness to someone that night, some more than others.

I'm rolling cookie dough for Jake now, and it's a labor that I look forward to seeing the Lord stretch. That the happiness a small cookie can bring will reach far beyond just the person who eats it. I think of how the funds from the bake sale will be supporting Jake, that the work that he's about will bless a people, and how those healthy individuals will spread the blessing. That's what's possible when we give our labors to the Lord. He's able to use them far beyond a simple act of rolling out a ball of dough.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Funny Blog

As regularly as I check my email I also check my "blog list" to see if any of my friends or favorite sites have updated their blogs. Late last week I added a new blog to my blog list and I've been enjoying each and every day since then.

You all should look to the right of this page and find "Stuff Christians Like". I love the humor here, I hope you enjoy it also.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy...

During my later teen years and into my early twenties I spent my summers working at a local youth camp. I loved those summers, being in nature and spending time with kids, was the ultimate job for me back then. It didn't pay much, but then again I didn't have bills to pay back then (thanks Dad and Mom). What it lacked in pay it more than made up for in other "bonuses", one being the Wednesday morning biscuits and gravy.

That breakfast was so routine and delicious the counselors even came up with a little song (that had motions) to express our joy on that particular morning. To this day whenever I have biscuits and gravy I'm transported back to Wednesday morning at camp.

This morning I arose from my short sleep (after a very long day yesterday and an even longer night) and began preparations for biscuits and gravy. At Sandal House we were having guests over for breakfast and we needed to impress.

For the buttermilk biscuits I put all my dry ingredients in a bowl and sifted together as I watched the sunrise out my kitchen window. The sky was a mix of beautiful colors as I cut in my butter and added the wet ingredients. There was good light streaming through the kitchen window by the time I was cutting out my biscuits.

As the biscuits went into the oven I began to brown the most delicious pork sausage. I heard the birds begin to chirp as the sausage began to sing in the pan. I saw a couple birds flying back and forth before the window as I browned flour into the cooked sausage. Then came the sound I love so much, the first hiss as the cold milk hits the hot pan and picks up all that wonderful brown flour. I stirred until the gravy became thick and added my seasonings.

Everything came together right on time. Our guest arrived and we sat down to warm biscuits with hot gravy poured on top. That's how a body should start out their day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Roadtrip with the Dixie Chicks

This past Saturday I jumped in the car with my friend Emily and a Dixie Chick cd. Three hours later I was in Floyd, VA and feeling very light of heart. It's great what a good friend and good music can do for a girl.

I had never been to Floyd, but had heard about it off and on through the years. It had always sounded like some kind of farming town that wasn't worth the long drive (not when I can get "farming" right here in Rockingham County).

Well, shatter my misconceptions, because Floyd is my kind of town. Sure, it's got plenty of agriculture there (nothing wrong with that), but it's also got the best of past traditions, particularly when it comes to good music and dance. Floyd is famous for the "Floyd Country Store" which is celebrating it's 100th anniversery this year. Every Friday night the Country Store holds their "Friday Night Jamboree" with live bluegrass music and plenty of flatfoot dancing (clogging). In the warm summer months the fun and crowds even flow out on to the street with their dancing.
About once a month they even have live music and dancing on Saturday night. It was on one of these Saturdays that Emily and I attended. What a fun experience! I took some pictures for you to enjoy:

This first photo was of the Sunset outside our hotel room. We stayed at the Oak Haven Lodge, which had this incredible oak tree right outside our balcony. The Oak Haven Lodge was probably the best hotel I've stayed in EVER. It wasn't because it was extra fancy or anything, I just liked it because it was styled to be "homey". There was quilted bedspreads, country furnishings, stenciled paintings on the wall. I felt welcome from the moment I walked in. The porch balcony was even nice, I enjoyed this sunset while relaxing on our rocking chair. If you ever make it down to Floyd I'd recommend staying here.

After checking into our room, when then went out in search for dinner. Not far from the Floyd Country Store we came across El Charro's. WELL...we have two El Charro's in Harrisonburg, and they're a favorite of Emily and I, so dinner was an easy decision. We discovered this wasn't a chain restaurant, but the menus were surprisingly similiar. The food though was quite different. I really like the El Charro's in Harrisonburg, I think they're food is great, but the El Charro's in Floyd had INCREDIBLE food. The guacamole was best part of the meal, with real chunks of avacado in it. If you're ever in Floyd you better check out El Charro's for an excellent meal.

After dinner we walked straightaway to the Floyd Country Store, since the music and dancing had already begun. Once inside I have to admit I was a little intimidated by the excellent flatfoot dancers who were out on the floor. There were plenty of chairs to sit on, so Emily and I found a seat and just watched them dance. We sat there for quite a few numbers and I was getting bored, but still didn't have the nerve to actually get out on the floor and make a fool of myself with nonexsistent dancing skills.
After awhile we started browsing the store, which is really a great step back into the past, with their old fashioned products. After we saw all the store had to offer, we found new seats and started watching the dancing again. At this point I was starting to think this was a bad idea, why did we come here when we couldn't even dance. I saw a woman dancing her way to the dance floor, she was excellent, and she was going to be passing right by us. When she was next to me I asked her how long she had been dancing, her reply, "Since July." Less than a year, and she was great! She asked us why we weren't dancing and we admitted we didn't know how. She dragged us with her up to the dance floor and before you knew it we were clogging along with everyone else. I loved it!! I loved the clacking, the rythym, the music, EVERYTHING.
We continued to dance throughout the evening. One older, more eccentric woman took us under her wing and should us some steps. Emily was fun to watch, because of her passion for Salsa dancing she would mix the moves with clogging and came up with her own style. I had a few funny moment during the evening, the first was during a two-step (just a slow paced dance) when our "eccentric woman" motioned Emily and I out onto the dance floor. I'm going to teach you girls the Electric Slide she said. I didn't think I was hearing her right. I remember learning the electric slide in middle school, it was a fast paced line dance. She couldn't possibly be suggesting that the three of us dance the electric slide out on that dance floor with all the other COUPLES dancing around. Just as I feared though, that was exactly what she had been suggesting. For someone who likes to mingle on the floor with other people and not draw too much attention that was the LONGEST dance of my life.
The second "funny moment" came at the end of the evening when they played their last two-step (slow paced). There wasn't many young men at this dance, so that left "grandfather" types for Emily and I to dance with, which when you don't know people those gentlemen are preferred. A very nice gentleman asked me to dance as they called out this last dance. We stood in the middle of the floor preparing to dance. I told him I didn't know how to two step and he quickly told me, "two steps to the right, on step to the left" and we were off. It was then that I noticed that no body else was out on the dance floor. For what seemed like a lifetime it was just him and me, with everyone else watching. Slowly then other couples came out to the floor and my breathing returned to normal.
Here are some photos of the Floyd Country Store.





Here's Emily by the wood carved door at the Hardware Store. How great is that door?

Emily asked me to take a picture of this sign for the Oddfellas Cantina. She loved the name of this place. Since our trip I've heard from someone that this is a really great place to eat. I guess I'll be trying it out on my next trip to Floyd.

Emily also noticed this cross before I did. It was in the window of some store. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.

I love this photo. We didn't go to the Blue Ridge restaurant, but it looked good. I took the photo for the sign "North 221". We came into Floyd on this road, driving south from Roanoke. It's really a great, scenic drive.

As we were driving back home we took Route 221 back. Drive back wasn't as hurried as the drive to Floyd. Along the way we stop and took photos of some of our favorite scenes. We passed a Farmers Market with some neat advertising. Emily got this photo of the vehicle and sign.

I loved the fencing on this farm, so we pulled over and tried to capture the beauty of it all. Though I love this picture and think it turned out all right, I'd say it still doesn't do justice to all that we saw through our own eyes.

One of our last scenic stops was just outside Roanoke where we took this photo that speaks to me of the "First days of Spring." You're just starting to see some color come out on the trees.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter in Highland County

Easter Sunday found me in Highland County with my Granddaddy Vance. As always, I enjoyed my time with Granddad, and part of me didn't want to leave beautiful Highland County.

When I arrived at my Granddad's on Saturday I thought this month I would just skip church, it being a special service at church's and not wanting to visit a church on such a "holiday" service. I thought it would be nice to spend that extra time in the morning with my Granddad and fixing us a nice meal to be shared together.

Saturday evening my Uncle John stopped by and invited me to his church in McDowell. An invitation to church from my Uncle John!!! I couldn't turn that down.
I changed my Sunday morning plans, by doing some meal preparation before church and leaving last minute details to be finished shortly after services. My Uncle came by my Granddad's home shortly before 10 a.m. and we were off to church.

Now the town of McDowell located in Highland County has a couple of Church Steeples, and I've passed by them often enough during my lifetime, but have never visited. On this particular Sunday we visited McDowell United Methodist, where both my Uncles John and Robin (my Mom's only two brothers) attend.

We arrived just a tad late Sunday morning and service had already begun. Uncle John told me to open the white door to the left and walk on in. I'm use to larger church buildings, so I was expecting a small area to stand in once I opened the door and walked in. You know what I'm talking about, that space from the last row of pews until you reach the back wall where I person can stand and scan for a seat without obstructing anyone's vision.

When I took a step into this sanctuary I was already two rows of pews deep into the congregation before I realized there was no standing room space. I was definitely blocking some people's view and the church was packed. A couple rows forward there was some space that fit me and my Uncle, and when we took our seats the church was FULL.

To give you an idea of the size of this church, I'd say there was about 60-70 people there that Easter Sunday, and we were packed into those pews. I think when a church building is that small the term best used to describe it is Quaint. I haven't spent much time in "country churches", so it only added to the charm of the service for me.

When you have that few number of people and you're in such a small space, you can't help but get to know one another. What a loving and caring family they were to each other, and visitors. Being part of that church just for the day, touched my heart.

I came to find out after the service that the individuals in that church actually made up four different congregations. I asked my Aunt Nancy (my Uncle Robin's wife) how many people attended the United Methodist church on a given Sunday. Her reply, "Oh, I'd say about twenty." That's something I've never experienced, being part of a church of twenty. I've been apart of small groups that size. Don't get me misunderstand me, there's nothing wrong with being part of a church of twenty, there's even something idealic about it. I'm just stating the fact that a church membership that size is something foreign to me.

The reason for the combined church service was a tradition that these churches had with one another. Each year for the Easter week they combine their memberships and giftings to produce a skit that marks the passage of the week. There are four different services during the week (including two on Sunday) and each service is held at one of the churches.

What a beautiful message of the body of Christ, that these people who are neighbors and friends, drop their denomination title for the week and worship together.

I particularly liked the message their simple skit displayed on Sunday morning.

For someone whose church tradition is to see an empty tomb at front as visual focus, I was interested in knowing how they were going to use the fairly large cross at the front of their church. The cross was covered in some plastic mesh stuff. Shortly into the service adults began leading small children up to the front of the cross; the adults were reading scripture and the children carried beautiful flower arrangements. While one adult continued to read, two others would help the children arrange the flowers to the cross using the plastic mesh to hold the flowers in place. Before long you could no longer see the wood (or the plastic mesh) of the cross, it was so covered in beautiful, vibrant flowers.

The pastor then shared briefly this message (synposis form):

In day's of Jesus the cross was an ugly, torture of death. There was no worse way to die than by death on the cross.

Yet, today so many look to the symbol of the cross as a sign of hope and salvation. How is it that the message of the cross is so changed?

It's through Christ Our Lord!!

God is the One who can bring life from death. God is the One who can joy from adversity. God is the One that can change the hearts of each one of us. God is our Salvation!!

Today we see new life on this cross (the flowers) where before it was just two boards nailed together. Let this be a symbol of the new life that Christ can bring about in each of our lives.

At the end of the service as we sang the closing hymn two strong men carried the Flowered Cross out through the Church and placed it outdoors. My Aunt Nancy told me later that they leave the Flowered Cross there on the lawn for the whole next week, so as you passed by you would remember the ressurection.

I didn't have my camera with me that day to get a picture of the cross, but I didn't find the same sort of picture online.


You might also note from this picture that it was taken at a United Methodist Church, though it wasn't the church I visited.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Communication

I'd like to think, that over the years I've gained some skill in being able to communicate adeptly with others. Now I realize that there are times when I've missed the mark, and haven't been able to effectively get my point across. Though by and large I think most people understand me when I speak, write, or send non-verbal communication like nodding my head.



I've also matured over the years in communicating as a responsibility. If I tell someone I'll call, I call. If I'm suppose to send an email I write that email. This doesn't always mean that it works out for me (I'm remembering how over a month ago I struggled with my computer/email and my emails wouldn't send and I couldn't receive others - talk about frustrating).



These days my struggle in communication is learning how to effectively do it with a teenage population. I've got two words for you...SANDAL HOUSE!



In the beginning of my term at Sandal House I would bend over backwards to be flexible regarding the teens and their ability to communicate their needs and wants. That approach accomplished very little.



Now I take the approach that if they aren't able to effectively communicate to me in a timely manner what it is they need or want, then they often have to make do without. I'm happy to report this approach has begun to foster a more responsible attitude in our home.

For example, in the past the girls would often come to me when they were on their last diaper for their child and tell me they need more diapers. It never seemed to matter how often I asked them to give me some forewarning, so we could arrange diapers in a timely manner, they still continued to come to me at the last minute. After awhile I got tired of sounding like a broken record and I left them with the consequences.

I remember the evening, one of my teens came to me as I was leaving the house for a meeting (a meeting I had on our calendar for three weeks) and informed me she had just used her last diaper and need me to get her some more that evening. I looked at her and said, "I hear what you're asking me, but it doesn't sound like it's my problem. You're going to need either give me atleast 24 hours warning before you need diapers, or you need to figure out how you're going to get them yourself."

Presto...she found a diaper or two to borrow, gave me my forewarning, and we haven't had the problem since.

I've learned when you have THREE teens and only ONE little ol' me, it's important to get your communication worked out.

Actually, last evening a friend of mine asked me if I was learning a lot from my Sandal House experience. Now this was a friend I see quite often, and talk to even more, so they shouldn't be surprised when I just gave them a blank "you've got to be kidding me" look. I was with a group of friends when the question was posed, and they laughed a little at my surprise of the question. I finally just smiled and said, "Yes, I'm learning a lot."

What an understatment though. It seems that everyday I learn something new. Something about teenagers, babies, toddlers, parenting, our cultural, our values, and faith. I could go on and on about what God has shown me through this experience. Praise Him!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lesson Learned...again and again

At the ripe old age of 28 I can look back over my life and notice a disturbing trend. I have a tendency to attract very strange people to me.

Thankfully, more "healthy" acquitances are the norm, but still every once in awhile I have a strange come out of the woodwork. It's never very funny at the moment, but time has a way of coloring the events into what is often an amusing story (laughing sometimes is the only antidote).

This past Sunday I added another event to my list of memories. I was walking through the Walmart parking lot when some man grabbed my arm and spun me around. Though I'll admit to being startled, my first thought was, "who is this guy?" My mind couldn't process why a stranger would grab me like that, so for a split second I thought it had to be someone I knew.

By the time I realized he wasn't anyone I had ever met, he had already grabbed my right arm too and was pulling me towards him. The next 5-10 seconds was a very limited struggle of me trying to pull first my arms and then head away from him. He on the other hand, was trying to pull me by the arms and then grabbing at me by the neck (trying to get my head closer).

Surprise and shock played a role into why I didn't fight back (other than just making movement to pull away). It wasn't like he was trying to drag me anywhere, and he didn't have a gun or knife that I could see. When trying to explain the incident later to people all I could fathom was that he was trying to kiss me or something. He kept trying to get our faces closer, so I assumed that it was a kiss he wanted.

It was because he was trying to get our faces closer that I smelled the alcohol on his breath...UGH!

Our Lord sent a protector for me that evening. I never got the man's name, and he didn't get mine, but this man saw what was happening and spoke up and came to help me out. Because of his actions the whole incident was very brief (it seemed to me that it was over before I even registered what was happening). The man who was attacking me ran off when my rescuer started coming towards us.

I'm happy to report that the drunk attacker was later arrested for a DWI and has admitted to grabbing me in the parking lot. When asked why he said, "I was just having a little fun." Unlucky for him, his fun involved leaving bruises and scratches on my person, so he'll be charged with assault and battery.

Now you see what I mean about attracting the "strange ones". I have any number of stories where I've been in uncomfortable or even dangerous circumstances, which for a girl who grew up in a rural farming community that's just a little too much.

I have learned some valuable lessons from each of these experiences. For starters, I need to be more alert, especially when walking alone. I'll admit I have a tendency to be always lost in thought when I'm walking from here to there, that's a bad habit I should break. Next lesson I learned, when walking in a parking lot have your keys already in hand and don't be rummaging through your pursue with your head down. I was guilty of that one on Sunday evening.

If anything I've learned through all my years is that trust is a big factor for me. My entire childhood taught me that trust could just be easily given. I could trust my family, friends, neighbors, almost anyone who came into my life (with a few exceptions). It's not been until my adult years that I've learned that trust is something that should be earned. Sure that can come sooner for some than others, but it's not something I should just assume.

And with that I've learned a valuable lesson in life.